Sunday, March 22, 2015

Just Traveling Through

I've seen a quote several times recently that says, "It is both a blessing and a curse to feel things so very deeply."  And, yes, it is.  I've always been considered to be "emotional", "sensitive", "moody"... whatever word you'd like to call it.  It's something I've struggled with most of my life.  There are times that I just can't seem to keep my emotions and my feelings in check.  And for a long time, I tried to change that.  I tried to keep myself in line.  Never let them see me cry.  Keep your thoughts to yourself.  However, when you are a person who feels things so very deeply, you can't keep them stuffed inside for very long.  And eventually, every time I try to, they come out one way or another...usually in a not so very positive way.  

But as I'm getting older, I'm learning to embrace the emotional, sensitive, moody person God has created me to be.  It's because of my sensitive, emotional side that I work in the field I do.  It's what has fueled my passion and desire to help others.  I've often been told over the course of my life that I'm "too nice"...whatever that means. (I personally think the world needs more "nice".) And I have often been a doormat for others to walk all over because I don't like confrontation and often keep quiet.  There is a fine balance between being giving and caring while not allowing yourself to become passive.  But even in finding that balance, it is still both a blessing and a curse to feel so deeply.

My life has gone through drastic changes in the past year.  I've seen some of my lowest lows and some of my highest highs.  I've learned which friendships have been true and tested in the fire and those that were just a passing chapter in my life.  I've found the work I'm meant to do after years of struggling to feel "at home" with my career.  I've suffered loss.  I've seen devastation hit my own family in such a horrifying way that has made me question everything I've known.  I've seen joy in the faces of the individuals I work with every day over something as simple as a song.  And I've seen ignorance and prejudice in the hearts of those who would speak against those same individuals having an opportunity at greater independence.  I feel like Paul when he said he knew what it was to have plenty and to go without, to be hungry and to be full...I'm still working on the "being content in all things" part, though.  

Life is full of so much.  And sometimes, it gets to be too much for someone like me who feels everything so very deeply.  Now, I'm not saying I'm some special person.  I'm a nobody and I'm not special outside of God's grace.  But the heart God gave me that is so full of emotion and feeling exhausts me sometimes.  And in those moments when I feel I'm about to break under the weight of it all, if I'll quiet myself and listen, I can sense God's presence so very close.  And He reminds me that He is there and that sometimes it's okay to just collapse in His arms and let it all go.  

Casting Crowns has a song called "Just Be Held."  The first time I heard this song, tears just streamed down my face.  To think that the God of this universe cares enough to just hold me when I'm at my breaking point...that is an amazing thing.  Sometimes, in the midst of the chaos life can bring, we simply need to sit and let Him hold us.  It's so hard for me to do.  I often feel guilty if I'm not doing something all the time.  And just as God is there to hold us in those moments, He also calls us to bear one another's burdens.  But for me, it feels like I'm the burden if I let someone else take care of me for awhile.  It's how I'm wired.  I'm a "doer", a "Martha".  And because of that, I often reach a point where I break.  I don't like to admit that.  So I hide it.  I'm awesome at crying in the shower where no one can hear.  I'm great at faking a smile.  I'm a pro at withdrawing from everyone else.  And I'm sure I'm not alone.  There are a lot of us out there.  But what are we so afraid of?  Why is it so hard to let someone else in to help bear our burdens?

I don't have an answer for that.  But in the midst of this struggle we call life, in the midst of the hurt and the pain and the laughter and the joy, I'm reminded that we are not home yet.  Sometimes I think that God allows us to feel things as deeply as He does to remind us that we are just passing through.  We were not made for this world.  Philippians 1:22-24 (MSG) says, "As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do.  If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose.  Hard choice!  The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful.  Some days I can think of nothing better.  But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here."  There are days that the thought of going on to heaven sounds so much better than living here on this earth.  Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying I want to go today!  I'm ready to go whenever God calls me home, but I still have a lot of living I want to do here, too.  There are still things I want to experience.  But there are days when the weight of all that's wrong in this world get to me.  Days when I feel the pain and struggle along with my family and friends.  Days when I don't see how it will get better.  And on those days, I can totally relate to this verse.  But I know God's not done with me yet...

I know I still have a purpose here.  He still has work for me to do.  Work that I couldn't do if I didn't feel things so very deeply, if I wasn't sensitive to His leading...  We all NEED each other to get through this life.  God made life relational for a reason.  He didn't mean for us to walk this life alone.  But I often retreat rather than seek relationship out.  But it can be so powerful when we do.  Just yesterday I was talking with my cousin (who is more like my sister) about some struggles in her life.  She's in a similar position as I have been before.  I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:4 that says we are able to comfort others in similar situations in the same way we have been comforted ourselves.  She had been on my mind all week, so I sent her a text.  She replied saying that she really needed to hear that at that particular moment.  And thus opened the floodgates of conversation where God was able to use me to minister to her in her moment of need.  And there have been many times when she's called or text me in my time of need.  When we talked on the phone yesterday, I told her that I had thought about how neither of us have our moms anymore and how that makes life so difficult sometimes.  But in that commonality of being motherless at these times in our lives when we so desperately want and need a mother, we find comfort in our relationship and shared experiences.

And so it comes full circle.  Yes, I can be emotional. I can be moody.  I do feel things to my core.  And there are days that it can get to be too much.  But then I remember that God put me here for a purpose and part of that purpose to bear the burdens of those around me.  And yes, it's going to be difficult.  And yes, there will be tears...both of joy and sorrow.  There will be struggles...that lead to both blessing and loss.  But when we learn to view all these things in the light of glory, we realize we are just traveling through...  So we need to make the most of the time God blesses us with here on this earth.  We need to realize that it's ok to feel things deeply.  We all need to feel more deeply, love more deeply, take more risks, cry a little more, laugh a lot more, bear each others' burdens with joy and keep pressing on towards the prize (Philippians 3:14). 

And we need to just keep on traveling through...

"Wayfaring Stranger" by Andy Griffith

"Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns

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